Composting has steadily become more popular in our modern day lives and for good reason. It has become a much more cost effective and natural way of making a highly nutritious fertilizers for our plants as well as regenerating our yards soil.
What is Composting?
Compost is the breakdown of organic material, such as food wastes, into a soil-like material that can be added to our soils to assist in plant growth. A material called humus can be created from adding the appropriate organic compounds along with a breakdown agent and time to fully mature. No it does not look like the humus we would normally eat, but rather it looks more like soil substance with an earthly smell. You may think that humans came up with composting, but it in fact happens worldwide throughout the seasons. Vegetation falls and provides a natural way to provide nutrients to the soil beneath. The only problem with nature’s way of composting is that disease and rodents can often be attracted to the fallen materials which would not be good for our plants.
What to Compost?
There are a variety of items that can be composted, but some of the more common items include:
- Egg Shells
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Tea Bags
- Yard Waste
In general, the food waste from above provide the composting with high levels of nitrogen and carbon along with moisture to make microbial grow quickly.
Be sure to avoid certain items like meats, dairy products, fats and oils and any other items that may be prevelant to causing disease or could be harmful for your plants growth. The EPA has an entire list of items to compost and those to avoid.
Though are ineffective in composting on their own, combined with the materials above, they can create an environment ripe for breakdown. They include wood chips and provide much lower moisture levels and are much more porous to help with the decay process.
There are a variety of benefits associated with composting which include:
- Suppress plant diseases and pests.
- Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
- Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
- Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste.
- Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff.
- Capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air.
- Provide cost savings of at least 50 percent over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable.
In general, the cost of compost is far cheaper than any chemical alternative you can find on the market. Many times, it can cost you hundreds of dollars every season to fertilize your yard every year. Why not make your compost at a fraction of that cost and you will feel go about reusing materials you would normally throw out?
Photo by daryl_mitchell.
There are many different types of containers that can be used make your own compost which include:
Wooden Compost Bin
These are some of the most cost effective compost containers. They do require you usually make them yourself, but they only cost the supplies to make them and can last a long time. Building your own composting container can make the cost practically free and just as effective as bins you would buy. Check out this site that gives you directions on how to make various different compost bins.
Kitchen Compost Bins
Kitchen compost bins on the surface don’t seem like more than a bin that sits that you can sit in your kitchen to hold organic waste. The neat thing about these little bins is that they maintain the odors from the materials you put into it. There usually is some sort of filter and a tight fitting lid that keep all the odors in until you can take it outside to your normal composting bin. There are two main types of these small containers, ceramic and stainless steel.
Composting tumblers are some of the more popular varieties as they allow you to hold high volumes of compost, raised off of the ground and allows you to turn the compost on a regular basis. They come in various varieties including plastic and metal.
There are many other varieties of high-tech composters including this solar composting cone that is made from recycled plastics. These types of bins are usually much more expensive, but provide a higher yield in a shorter period of time.
You don’t have to make your own compost and still get a great discount over tradition fertilizers. You will still get the benefits listed above, but without having to maintain a composting area. You can often buy it locally for a very inexpensive price or free.
Please share any compost recipes you may have or ideas on how to compost.